Nuclear experts watch for Iran’s first N-test after sanctions fail

A number of competent and well-informed sources have reached the same conclusion, namely, that international sanctions have failed to halt Iran’s push for a nuclear weapon and advanced ballistic missiles and that the Islamic Republic is fast approaching a nuclear arms capability.
debkafile, which has raised this possibility for the past year or more that Iran is making huge strides towards a nuclear bomb capacity, reports is joined now by The Washington Post, the Institute for Science and International Security, Jafarzade Alireza of the Iranian opposition People's Mujahedeen, which has for seven years accurately traced Iran’s nuclear development, and unnamed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials.

Not a single expert in the field, whether American, international or Israeli, disagrees with the common finding that the sanctions imposed by the UN, Europe and the US, have not slowed down Iran’s race for a nuclear weapon. No covert agency, moreover, appears ready to state where this program stands today, how far Iran is from the capacity to build a nuclear device or whether it has in fact crossed that threshold.

Under the caption: If Iran makes a final nuclear push, can it be detected? The Washington Post of Sept. 10 quoted the latest IAEA report as showing that there has essentially been no change in Iran's steady accumulation of low-enriched uranium. Since last November, its stockpile has grown from 1,800 kilograms to 2,800 kilograms — an increase of more than 50 percent. Tehran now has enough low-enriched uranium to produce two nuclear weapons with further enrichment. Already, it has enriched 22 kilograms to the level of 20 percent, which is considerably closer to the 60 percent threshold for weapon.

An analysis of the report by the Institute for Science and International Security concluded that Iran may be seeking "to increase its capability to divert nuclear material in secret and produce weapon-grade uranium in a plant unknown to the inspectors or Western intelligence agencies." If that is the case, economic sanctions are unlikely to prevent it.

The WP editorial appeared in the wake of an article by the nuclear expert David Kay captioned: The Bearer of Bad News on Iran. He says: “…the Obama administration needs to begin to seriously contemplate what it will do on the Day After. The Day After what? The Day After Iran announces it has deployed missiles capable of carrying “the world’s most destructive weapons.” The Day After Iran conducts a nuclear weapons test.

Then, Thursday, Sept. 9, Alireza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for the Iranian opposition People's Mujahedeen, claimed evidence that Tehran is building a uranium enrichment plant at Abyek 75 miles west of the capital. While a US official said it appears to have no nuclear role, Jafarzadeh told reporters "This is certainly part of their secret nuclear weapons program." He said the site is controlled, run and operated" by Iran's defense ministry, and that Iranian authorities have so far spent 100 million dollars on the site and completed about 85 percent of the construction

He said "people within the Iranian regime" provided details about the site, which he said was begun in 2005 and is now 85 percent complete.

debkafile's file’s sources find three reasons to have sparked this flurry of worrisome findings about Iran’s nuclear activities:
1.  To prepare the public for another round, the fifth, of harsh sanctions which Tehran has already warned would be treated as justifying military retaliation in the Persian Gulf and Middle East. Tehran, aware of the unforgiving opinion building up in the West, made the gesture Friday, Sept. 10, of inviting reporters to witness the release of Sarah Shourd, one of the three American hikers seized last year in the Iraqi-Iranian border area and charged as spies. (The release was cancelled later that night due to “unresolved legal issues.”)
2.  To prepare the climate in the US for a possible Iranian nuclear test within months. Administration officials wrongly estimate that it would still take Iran a year to produce a weapon, a view Israel subscribes to. They also assert that such an attempt would likely be detected by UN inspectors. However, in June, Iran barred access to two experienced inspectors, part of a systematic effort to blind the IAEA to its activities.
3.  The Jewish New Year was deemed a good time for the bad news about Iran to emerge because its alarming content for Israel in particular would reach American Jews and Israel more slowly and with reduced impact. The Netanyahu government could then continue to keep the Israeli public deluded about the closeness of the Iranian nuclear threat for a while longer.

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